Yesterday, we hosted our very first webinar, introducing the Zirks model to the public. Hello, world!
In the webinar, our fearless leader, Kirk Zehnder, spoke about dumb ideas, sacred cows (and hamburgers?), and Cirque du Soleil. Sounds fascinating, right?
You’re probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Zirks and increasing margin on imported commodities?”
Why don’t you take a listen to the recording to find out?
In the meantime, take a look at the questions asked throughout the webinar to learn more about Zirks:
1. What is the minimum volume in which to consider importing?
It’s whatever you can get a factory to make. If you have great relationships, you can get them down to a pallet of parts. But bringing in a pallet that you might have to sit on for a year might not be a great import candidate. It’s hard not to look at percentage savings, but it doesn’t offset other challenges. The best volume is a full container of one part.
2. What types of products are most suited to importing?
Our focus is the high-volume commodity parts that are already being bought in volume.
3. What happens if you don’t sell the container?
Let’s say if half the container isn’t sold, we can hold them in port and relist them. In many cases, the leftover is bought by Earnest and goes into the general inventory.
4. Are we able to see the manufacturer’s name on the product on the water?
You cannot see the supplier name on the website. However, after your purchase, you can see it on the MTR when it is emailed to you. Down the road, we would add the factory identifications on the website.
5. What are the main risks of importing?
(jokingly) Everything? We’ve had containers quarantined due to a few leaves of a plant. Dealing with factories that you don’t have long relationships with, that you haven’t visited. Bad products to delays to import issues.
6. Parts made to print...get them right the first time... fear I’ll have to eat 250 thousand bad parts.
No one wants to eat 250 thousand of anything. Zirks will not be bringing in parts made to print. If you need it made to print, Earnest does that through our factory direct program.
7. Does Zirks source parts from the same manufacturers as Earnest?
Yes. These are the same manufacturers that we, as Earnest, have been working with for 20-30 years. The way Earnest manages its supply base is the same way Zirks will manage it. We’ve taken the time to vet these relationships, we won’t be buying from someone who has a container lying around.
8. Will material and plating certificates arrive with the product?
Test reports and plating certs will be emailed in advance. They are not included in the pallet. Traditionally, we are seeing that going away.
9. How do you choose the parts you import?
Very carefully and with a little bit of risk. We look at our parts and recognize that there are commodity parts – we’re really good in the fastener space – that will do well. We also offer polling, so users can let us know what they want to see. This helps us see trends that we haven’t seen before. That will shift the parts that we bring in. It sort of sounds like crowdsourcing, but that’s because it is kind of like crowdsourcing.
10. I already have a pretty good plan in place when importing my main commodities. How can you help me with the items I don’t buy as frequently? Is there any advantage to using you?
Yes. If you’ve got a good plan in place for importing direct, continue doing that. However, challenges pop up, and we’d be a good fit. Like with our case study, they have their supply chain managed so they didn’t need us until something went wrong. With items you don’t buy as frequently, the advantages are short lead times and minimum purchase quantities of one pallet.
11. I understand that by purchasing on the water, Zirks is comparable to a domestic supplier when it comes to lead time. Are you always going to be less expensive than a domestic supplier?
Always? Yes. Buying a full container with us is always going to be cheaper than a domestic buyer.
12. Does the Zirks model make sense for smaller distributors and/or “mom & pop” purchasers? How?
It’s really great for the (technical term) mom & pop – people who are thinking about importing, but feel like they don’t have enough volume to attract the right supplier, or they want to find that right supplier, but they know they have to spend. Maybe they’ve purchased through a traditional importer/wholesaler like Earnest, but they want to have a go at this. Zirks is a perfect low cost, low barrier, low risk way to buy more volume.
13. Are there future plans to integrate your platform with 3rd party ordering systems?
If this question is asking about integrating with a customer’s MRP, that’s down the road. We have thought about how this could tie in with the ability to place the order through their MRP and have that carry over into Zirks. It’s complicated, but yeah, we’re looking into it.
Can products ship direct to secondary process suppliers rather than coming to the distributor first?
Yes, you can ship it wherever you like. In fact, we encourage you ship it to your best friend as a birthday present.
This touches on one thing. Zirks is the importer of record. When the part arrives, there is no importing and processing and duties that are going to land once someone selects their shipping. That is all resolved by Zirks prior to shipping.
If you're interested in viewing the full webinar, click below!